August 21, 2013

Football = Pizza + Beer

Yes.  It's that time of year again.  Football.  Of course it's only pre-season.  And why would one waste his/her time with such nonsense, especially when that nonsense has no significant influence on the REAL season and all the "good" players are played on the field just long enough to tease the sports fans?

Oh, we have our reasons.

See, we've waited SO. LONG.  Patiently tolerating basketball season, and really stretching ourselves through baseball season... Of course there's March Madness, and it's always fun to catch a baseball game here and there with those who really enjoy the game.  This past year the waiting was especially difficult since our 2012 football fix was...muted.  Honestly, east coasters, how do you maintain a regular sleep schedule if you want to keep up with your football?  The games usually ended well past our bedtime.  Nevertheless, we put up with the eastern time zone, staying up late to catch the whole game.  And forget about keeping up with our Seahawks.  The local channels only feature the eastern conference.  How rude.

But what exactly are we patiently waiting for?  What is it about football that is so wonderful?  It's not the news or drama associated with various teams and players.  It's not even the curiosity to see which team will reign supreme this season.   And it's certainly not about the hitting.  Even David would agree with that.  I think we look forward to football season all year because it's a wonderful activity gather around with friends, the game is casual, it's complex, it's a sign that fall and winter are coming.

Even more than the game are the rituals to which I've been introduced since marrying my husband. His love for football also includes a set of rituals.  Traditions.  I did not know of these traditions when I first married him.  But let me tell you, that did not last very long.  I was quickly schooled in the world of Football = Pizza + Beer.

The problem is I don't really like delivery pizza.  I think it's far too expensive for a greasy mess that may or may not taste delicious.  And it's a gamble whether or not my stomach will approve of my source of nutrients later. Lately, the distaste for it has been mostly the cost.  Delivery fees are RIDICULOUS, folks!  Thank God I can make me a mean pizza with my own two little hands.

There are a couple pizzas I've made that are David's favorites: 1) BBQ chicken, ham, and pineapple and 2) turkey pepperoni, chicken and zucchini.  I made the latter last weekend.  So I thought I'd share it with you!

A good pizza really depends on the crust.  I have been successfully using Betty Crocker's recipe as long as I've been cooking for myself.  But a delightful little gift from David's brother and sister-in-law a few Christmas' ago has improved that crust even more.  Yes, I highly recommend a pizza stone as a standard kitchen gadget thingy.

Before I cook anything I gather all my ingredients.  I find I become distracted by too many things--other people, thoughts, laundry buzzers--when I'm cooking.  My results are far better when I don't forget to add the sugar.  Or yeast.  Yes, most importantly the yeast.

Sugar, all-purpose flour, olive oil, salt, yeast (and water...not pictured)

Combine all the dry ingredients.

1 c. flour, 1 T. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
Heat 1 cup water to activate the yeast.  Some folks, like my mom and grandma, can tell the perfect temperature with the back of their pinkies.  I cannot.  So I use a thermometer :)  120-130° F seems to give this recipe the best results.  I just nuke the water for about 45 seconds.  Sometimes that's too much time, sometimes it's not enough.  But I'm a perfectionist.  So I wait until the temp is juuuuust riiiiiight.  I'm Goldie Locks, too.

But I digress.  Pour in the warm water.  And 3 T. olive oil.

How about takin' the little hand mixer for a whirl and beat everything for 3 minutes?  

hmm...what do bananas have to do with pizza dough?

Ok.  All done.  Now add some more flour (1-2 more cups) gradually...I started with 1 more cup...

Nothing.  Ignore the bananas.

Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon.  The flour will be completely incorporated into the dough. I then measure my second cup of flour.  But it just sits there, longing for me to use it.  Calling my name. Don't do it, Beth.  Use your willpower.  Resist its calls.  Over-flouring is bad.

But you can add a little...just a little from that pre-measured cup. Mix some more. Add some more flour.  Mix some more. Just until the dough comes together.  About one more 1/2 cup later, my dough was ready to knead.  

My goodness!  The bananas are multiplying! 

Now, if I had added too much flour and the spoon wasn't incorporating it into the dough...that would not have been that big of deal (I've done this many a time before. My dough was not a failure).  I would have simply dumped the whole floury mess onto the counter and start kneading to incorporate that flour.  Deep breath, little grasshopper, it will all come together. **If I were a really-amazing-always-thinking-about-my-blog-blogger then perhaps I would have a picture for you from this morning's happenstance. But I don't.  So please just trust that I do in fact over-flour my dough :-)** 

But here was this beautifully cooperative dough, ready to knead.    

Ah yes. My mama would be so proud.

Using the remaining flour from my pre-measured cup, I sprinkled a little flour on the counter and over the dough.  I set the timer for 8 minutes.  And go!  I started kneading.  Sometimes I'd add a little bit more flour, especially when the dough stuck to my hands.  

I kneaded until the dough became nice and elastic.  This particular dough didn't need the entire 8 minutes, I think I only gave it about 6.  Honestly it depends on the day and the humidity.  But 6 minutes passed and I had a nice round pizza dough ball.  

The dough is still sticky-ish at this point.  So to prevent it from sticking to the counter (or bowl) after it's done rising I spread a little olive oil on the surface, then a little more on top of the dough.  I place either a damp tea towel or plastic wrap over the sucker and wait.  

That was MORE than enough olive oil.  Perhaps a lighter hand next time?

K, 30 minutes to prepare my pizza goodies.  Efficiency! 

Like I said earlier, one of David's favorite pizzas is topped with turkey pepperoni, chicken (I just pan-fry up a breast with a little S&P or use left-over chicken), zucchini and a combination of cheddar and monterey jack cheeses.  I make my own tomato-based pizza sauce in large batches and freeze it for future use.  I pulled a portion out of the freezer to thaw. 

Oh my gosh, look how old that sauce is!  Clearly I haven't made pizza in a LONG while.  The sauce was just fine.  I bet it would still be good for another 3 months ;-)

While the sauce thawed I chopped the zucchini--1/4 inch slices. 

I shredded the cheese, then sliced my pan-fried chicken breast across the grain.  

Oh!  I heard the timer.  Perfect.  I turned on the oven to pre-heat at 375.  Time to play with my dough! I took half of it and formed a nice round crust, pressing the dough with my fingers from the center to the rim, rotating along the way.  I sometimes picked the crust up to stretch it, then I'd lay it back down and perfect the sucker.

Some of that cornmeal (yeah, I store it in a quart mason jar) gets sprinkled on the pizza stone, then I moved the crust on over.  Time for toppings!

Sauce, little cheese, pepperoni, zucchini, chicken
I sprinkled a little more cheese over everything before popping the pizza into the oven.  That way the toppings don't fall off when you try to eat it!

While the pizza was baking....

the hubby made himself comfortable
18 minutes later our pizza was done!  I definitely scored brownie points last weekend.

I haven't the slightest idea which team won the game.  I can't even remember who was playing.  But it was SO nice to have the sound of the game back in our home.  The casual coziness of pizza and beer. Mmm.  It was a long time comin'.  Happy happy girl. :)  


  1. Bless you for always making everything from scratch! I hope to make big batches of pizza and pasta sauces in the near future, but with crusts I am always lazy and just spring for the Trader Joe's ball of dough. :)

    Can I spend a football Sunday at your house? :P

    1. Yes! I'd love that. Pick a weekend that works for you and we'll coordinate!

  2. We always used to do the Joy of baking cookbook, too! But nowdays, like Lynsi, we grab a dough or two from Trader Joe's! Your recipe looks delish. I'll try and remember to check back on this when we make homemade pizza next :) You are such a good cook, Beth!

    We want to come over for pizza and football tooooooo!!! :D